League tables published amid confusion and controversy

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 February 2015

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LEAGUE tables branded ‘a total mess’ by one North Somerset headteacher have been released following a year of confusion and changes brought in by the Government.

Times league table graphic copyTimes league table graphic copy

The latest data compares GCSE and A-level results from exams sat by secondary school pupils during the 2013/14 academic year, with some schools seeing results improve and others flounder compared to the tables compiled for the previous year.

The data, released by the Department for Education, shows that an average of 56.6 per cent of pupils in state schools in England achieved the benchmark of five good GCSEs including English and maths. This is down four percentage points on 2013, when 60.6 per cent reached this level.

The dip in the overall performance of schools comes in the wake of Government changes designed to make exams more academically rigorous.

From this year, only a pupil’s first attempt at an exam is included in the league tables, meaning results from any resits taken later are not included in the data - that is despite the fact these would reflect the actual grade awarded to the student.

Headteacher at Gordano School in Portishead, Gary Lewis, has hit out at this policy which he believes has left the tables in ‘a total mess’, with discrepancies between actual attained results and those in the tables.

Mr Lewis stood by a decision to keep students entered for a GCSE maths exam in November 2013, ahead of exams and possible resits the following summer, despite the last minute changes.

He said: “To have withdrawn students from this exam would have been to put the needs of the school above the interests of our students and we would never do that.

“Parents at the school and those in our community will want to know that Gordano’s headline achievement for 2014 was eight per cent higher than that published in the league tables.”

His views have been backed by North Somerset Council’s executive member for children and young people services, Cllr Jeremy Blatchford.

He said: “Imagine playing a game of rugby when at half time the referee decides to change to American Football - this is comparable to what happened in this case.

“Students found their exams were not counted where they had been previously.”

According to the league tables - when looking at the percentage of pupils attaining at least five or more GCSEs at grade C or above - Backwell, Nailsea and St Katherine’s schools all improved their results from 2013 to 2014, with Clevedon and Gordano seeing their data dip. The average for North Somerset dropped by just 0.7 per cent.

At A-level, Clevedon School came out on top in the Times coverage area, with 91 per cent of students achieving the benchmark of at least three A-levels at grade A*-E. In the rest of North 
Somerset, this was only surpassed by Churchill Academy which recorded 92 per cent and Sidcot School with 95 per cent.


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